Pass by a sea cucumber in a tide pool, and you may hardly notice this lowly, pickle-shaped creature. But try to make a meal out of one, and you’ll probably never forget it.
The Marine Science Institute's monthly column, Science and the SeaTM, is an informative and entertaining article that explains many interesting features of the marine environment and the creatures that live there. Science and the SeaTM articles appear monthly in one of Texas' most widely read fishing magazines, Texas Saltwater Fishing, the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper, the newsletter of the Texas Chapter of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association , and the Heartland Of America online newspaper. Our article archive is available also on our website.
A whale carcass brings a whopping amount of organic matter to a place where food is scarce. Within days, hagfishes, sleeper sharks and scavenging crustaceans arrive to feast on the remaining flesh. This first stage is called the mobile scavenger phase. Depending on the size of the carcass, the bones can be picked clean in a matter of months.
Bull sharks are unique among sharks in their ability to live in freshwater habitats for long periods of time. However, dealing with changes in salinity is very taxing on their bodies, prompting scientists to wonder why these sharks venture into fresh water in the first place.
Most people probably think their encounters with seaweed are limited - being brushed by its slimy blades while swimming in the ocean, or trying a seaweed salad with sushi. But people come in contact with one component of seaweed in their everyday lives. It’s a compound known as algin.
Imagine that you were hungry for a meal, and there were plenty of tasty morsels around you… but you had to dive into chilly waters to get them. That’s a feat cormorants perform every time they dine.
Conservationists, governments and energy companies all seem to take a keen interest in the oceans’ continental shelves. These extensions of continents are shallow, mostly flat regions of Earth’s crust under the sea along the coastlines. On their outer edge, a continental slope falls away to the much deeper sea floor.